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Skill BuildingResilience/CompassionRelationships/CommunicationSocial Emotional/Behavioral

Judith Warner

And Then They Stopped Talking to Me: Surviving Middle School

Virtual Event

The French have a name for the uniquely hellish years between elementary school and high school: l’âge ingrat, or “the ugly age.” Characterized by a perfect storm of developmental changes—physical, psychological, and social—the middle school years are a time of great distress for children and parents alike, marked by hurt, isolation, exclusion, competition, anxiety, and often outright cruelty. Some of this is inevitable; there are intrinsic challenges to early adolescence. But these years are harder than they need to be, and Judith Warner believes that adults are complicit.

Through the stories of kids and parents in the middle school trenches, Judith Warner reveals why these years are so painful, how parents can unwittingly make them worse, and what we all need to do to grow up.

With deep insight and compassion, Warner walks us through a new understanding of the role that middle school plays in all our lives. She argues that today’s helicopter parents are overly concerned with status and achievement—in some ways a residual effect of their own middle school experiences—and that this worsens the self-consciousness, self-absorption, and social “sorting” so typical of early adolescence.

Tracing a century of research on middle childhood and bringing together the voices of social scientists, psychologists, educators, and parents, Warner’s book shows how adults can be moral role models for children, making them more empathetic, caring, and resilient. She encourages us to start treating middle schoolers as the complex people they are, holding them to high standards of kindness, and helping them see one another as more than “jocks and mean girls, nerds and sluts.”

Judith Warner, author of the new book, “And Then They Stopped Talking to Me: Making Sense of Middle School,” is best known for her 2005 New York Times best-seller, “Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety,” and New York Times column, “Domestic Disturbances.” She is a Journalism Fellow for the Women Donors Network’s Reflective Democracy Campaign and recently co-authored “The New Campaign Playbook: Bold Ideas for Running, Winning, and Transforming America” with Miti Sathe and Will Levitt of Square One Politics.

A former special correspondent for Newsweek in Paris, she hosted “The Judith Warner Show” on XM satellite radio from 2005 to 2007, and wrote the 1993 best-seller “Hillary Clinton: The Inside Story,” as well as several other books.

Speaker Resources

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